Cumberland County to Expand Surveillance

Video captured by 30 surveillance cameras located in the entrances, courtrooms, elevators and holding cells of the Cumberland County Courthouse in Carlisle, Pa., has been so successful in helping the sheriff’s office prosecute criminals that the county plans to add 20 more cameras in four other buildings.

The county built its video surveillance network with IP-based cameras from Axis Communications, Panasonic and Sony, which are linked using Milestone XProtect Enterprise software. Security personnel monitor the video on two plasma screens at the main courthouse.

“Whenever we have an incident, we deal with it and save the video for prosecution purposes,’’ says Bryan D. Ward, administrative sergeant for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. “We move a ton of prisoners on busy days. The prisoners act up. We have guys getting in fights, outbursts, disorderly conduct. People come to talk to their probation officers and get out of control. We save the video. … Usually the guys will plea when they see the video, because how do you refute it?’’

Ward says Cumberland County has experienced some unexpected benefits from its IP video cameras, including catching former employees who entered the courthouse with stolen keys and spotting burglars and others driving past the building in cars that matched the description of vehicles involved in criminal incidents.

“The other benefit that wasn’t perceived was that it would help with slips and falls. I save a lot of that video for our own insurance purposes,’’ Ward says.

Cumberland County bought its IP surveillance network for around $127,000 in 2006. The cameras have a dedicated server with 15 terabytes of storage. The Milestone software runs on the server and the two viewing stations, enabling users to view all of the cameras on a single display.

“With the amount of storage we have and the type of cameras, which record on motion, we can store 30 to 35 days of video, which is more than adequate,’’ Ward says.

In 2009, Cumberland County plans to add 20 or 25 more cameras, which will cover external and internal locations for four other buildings in Carlisle’s historic district. The new cameras will record video on DVR systems installed in each building, but Ward will have remote access to the data.

“I can easily add cameras,’’ Ward says. “The Milestone software is very intuitive. The installer offered training, but nobody took it because the software was so easy. You just sit down and use it. You can’t screw it up.’’

Dec 12 2008